poetry diary

I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing. (Seamus Heaney, from Personal Helicon)

Month: February, 2011

On the beach

Seeing you there, alone,
pebbles scattering
on the beach. They don’t care;
flying discretely
through the air.

Your hair shatters
in wilder shards;
chasing the wind – who knows where?

But life is yours;
insisting on wholeness,
against the maelstrom, and despair;
you hold the scene.

© 2011 Matthew Rhodes

Warwick Parkway 1am

The slow scrumpling of the rain:
I see lights, like statues in the dark,
still against the restless night.

Slowly they come;
rolling softly down the road,
dousing lamps as they pause.
Forming lines;

A train passes.
The rain rains.
Strange rows, in silence.

And then the bus,
alone and purposed,
arriving with a sigh;
long, low hiss of success,
and call to arms.

Boys emerge, and men;
tired of travel,
lost and cold.

And welcomed in
to guardian angel arms,
doors open and close;
lights and engines rise, now,
and disperse.

© 2011 Matthew Rhodes

An unexpected response to this week’s prompt (43) from wewritepoems that came to me while waiting to collect my son returning from the airport after a trip with the school choir to sing in Rome.


Your mind’s touch is gentle, subtle;
reaching through the mirages,
images of my soul,
disturbing its core.

In between the long, slow beats of my heart,
after we part.

Your eyes are quick and bright, speaking
amusement or puzzlement,
to mine, each chance meeting,
across your warm hearth.

Through grey, tired days, my footsteps lead always
back to your door.

Your face, soft, ever welcoming,
fixed in my mind; two spirits,
longing for more space, time
to be and explore.

When next I return, I dream of roses,
and you, alone.

© 2011 Matthew Rhodes

Nottingham Castle

Only the burning remains:
blackened stones and silent rock –
gatehouse to nowhere.

This is a land of half-myth;
rebels and oppressive lords –
lost in leaves and fog.

Reality is stranger;
original democrats –
rioting for votes.

Like Cairo today, they cared
and acted against the odds –
looking for better.

Manicured grass and dark stones;
neither one thing nor the other –
today’s castle sleeps.

Robin Hood was more open;
confronting evil with hope –
he led from the front.

Copyright ©2011 Matthew Rhodes

Nottingham castle was burned down by the citizens of the town in 1832, rioting for the right to vote. I was born and brought up there, so know it well.

Haiku – the end of the day

My child’s eyelids, soft,
filled with trust as I leave her,
each winter evening.

Copyright © 2011Matthew Rhodes

This poem was inspired by wewritepoems prompt 42 – a safe place. I feel her bed is a safe place for my daughter, and it’s always an emotional experience kissing her goodnight.

London at night

People like poems trapped
in concrete forms, stacked and packed;
at night, cosily,
just as in Roman times;
safe from northern barbarians,
and warm.

Fizz of passing cars,
not impressing odd couples
walking and talking.
Concrete paths, rain-wet still;
light-washed and purposed, echoing,
just me.

Such a great city;
at night, you’re almost human,
barbarian though
I be.

Copyright ©2011 Matthew Rhodes

Walking back to my hotel through Shoreditch.


I am all of the world today, tonight;
dancing clouds and watching trees, that white rose.
I am your hair, her eyes, his shoes, this light;
spinning girls and laughing boys, beer that flows.
I am in love with me and all of you;
snails that slide, birds that fly, to where they will.
I am these stones, that moss, those stars; you too
are part of me and me of you (sit still!)
So long I sought beyond, outside, above.
So long I felt my voice the only one.
So long I thought I was alone in love.
So long I dreamed I should be moving on.
I was so wrong, the world is not discrete;
we all are one and so am I complete.

Copyright ©2011 Matthew Rhodes

This is a response to wewritepoems prompt 40, to write a Valentine’s Day poem to yourself. It’s also a variation on the theme of my last poem (worldly love) below, or possibly the other way round (I started this one first but finished it second). It’s my second attempt at a sonnet – after Aubade/Feb 1.

Worldly love

I am the world.
Breathe on me,
and let rolling mists gently cup
soft curving turf.

I am the world.
Dream of me,
and feel cliffs dissolve, fade to sands,
fall under surf.

I am the world.
Spin with me,
through sunbeams to see stars break
dust from their hold.

I am the world.
Caress me now
and love me. Stroke me and shake me
till mountains unfold.

© 2011 Matthew Rhodes

A little poem for Valentine’s Day, written late at night in a hotel in London where I’m at a conference.

New Mills, Derbyshire

Architecture of purpose and industry;
I like canals between buildings:
brick against water, shaping nature,
lapping gently – peaceful now.

Two ducks and a plastic bag, floating.

Buildings that tell of many hands:
silly sheds at impossible angles;
added for Harold, who counted the coals.
Ladders for lads, and storage for boats.

Moss growing between the slabs, waiting.

Chimneys without hearts, lonely,
and so many windows, empty:
again and again – admitting light
still, to silent mill floors.

Rental and for sale signs, fading.

The people came, and remain.
Stoic houses worship forsaken mills
reflected in the quiet waters
of yesterday’s canals.

Awaiting salvation.
Who am I to say it will never come?

© Matthew Rhodes 2011


Corfe Castle, Dorset

Long, dark breaths surround you,
Desecrated, ruined towers.
You came with horses and men;
bent on violence, rape and war.

Drawn in by gentle slopes:
rich rolling curves and soft warm shoulders;
dew-fresh earth, dark and moist;
surf pounding, driving underneath.

Walls built for domination;
erect and proud against the sky.
short-lived all, time caresses:
stones tumble, lie still where they fall.

Quiet hills whisper mists;
absorbing and dissolving strength.
Long, dark breaths surround you,
desecrated, ruined towers.

© Matthew Rhodes 2011